Many people think of Hyundai when they think of boldly styled crossovers and SUVs. However, it is important to remember that the brand’s beginnings in South Africa were modest, with budget hatchbacks and sedans in the mid-1990s. The latest Grand i10 model honours this legacy by combining Hyundai’s long-standing commitment to entry-level vehicles with modern updates.
Despite its remarkable growth and current position as the fourth most popular car brand in South Africa’s new-vehicle market, Hyundai has never forgotten its humble beginnings in the entry-level car segment. In an era when economic pressures are palpable and consumers struggle to balance their incomes and budgets, the sub-R300 000 segment is especially important. This is a segment where Hyundai’s historical influence is deeply rooted. With the departure of the Atos from our market, the Grand i10, which was already a best-seller for the brand, takes on an even more important role, bolstered by the addition of sedan derivatives to its lineup.
The Hyundai Grand i10 receives a new look with a redesigned grille, bumper, and repositioned LED daytime running lights, culminating in a striking front end. A corner-to-corner tailgate reflector has been integrated into the rear design to visually augment its dimensions—a clever approach to increasing the sense of width in compact cars.
The Grand i10’s powertrain options remain consistent, with a choice between a 1.0-liter triple and a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine. These unboosted (non-turbocharged) petrol engines, which are common in entry-level vehicles, provide dependable performance. The 1.0-liter triple produces 48.4 kW/94 Nm, while the 1.2-liter 4-cylinder produces 61 kW and 114 Nm.
Hyundai’s strategic decision-making extends to its drivetrain offerings as well. The discontinuation of the 1.0-liter automatic highlights the brand’s ability to adapt to market demands. Both engine variants can be paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox, and the 1.2-liter engine can also be paired with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. As the automotive landscape evolves, the availability of advanced infotainment systems can be a deciding factor for buyers. In this regard, Hyundai has increased the appeal of the Grand i10 by equipping it with an 8-inch touchscreen and a C-type fast-charging USB port, catering to the diverse needs of tech-savvy consumers.
Individual ventilation outlets and USB ports for rear passengers prioritise passenger comfort. The vibrancy of the cabin is enhanced by red seat piping, which contributes to an engaging environment. While ergonomic considerations are obvious, the steering wheel’s limitation to tilt rather than depth highlights an opportunity for improvement.
Having embarked on the Grand i10’s launch journey through Cape Town, we encountered diverse driving scenarios, albeit not at the high altitudes of Gauteng. Although we didn’t engage with the 4-speed automatic derivatives, the experience with the 5-speed manual 1.2-liter versions underscored the effectiveness of the 3rd gear—a crucial component for real-world overtaking maneuvers.
The Grand i10’s road behaviour is critical, with secure tracking despite its compact wheelbase and modest wheels. At cruising speeds, the electric power steering contributes to a confident driving experience by steering clear of unnecessary lightness or artificial ambiguity. However, the lack of Electronic Stability Control (ESP) in a market where ABS is the norm is perplexing. Because of the relationship between the two systems, this specification omission is intriguing, raising questions about potential cost-cutting motivations.
Maneuvrability is essential in urban environments, and the Hyundai Grand i10 is up to the task. Its compact dimensions and tight turning circle are perfectly suited to inner-city needs. This prowess is complemented by the standard inclusion of a reverse-view camera, a feature that can be extremely useful in crowded parking lots. Notably, while competitors provide this as an option, Hyundai includes it as standard.
Furthermore, the Grand i10 distinguishes itself in terms of loadability. It outperforms competitors such as the Polo Vivo (280 litres) and Suzuki Swift (268 litres) with a load-bay capacity of 360 litres. Surprisingly, the vehicle retains a full-size spare wheel beneath the boot board, despite the increased cargo space.
With the rise of crossovers and SUVs, the landscape of the compact sedan segment has changed, but sedans retain a distinct appeal. With its longer body, the Hyundai Grand i10 Sedan provides more high-speed stability than its hatchback counterpart. Furthermore, the sedan’s all-metal boot provides enhanced security, giving it an advantage over hatchbacks with glass tailgates that are vulnerable to break-ins.
Due to its elongated dimensions and aerodynamic refinements, the sedan variant equipped with Hyundai’s 1.2-liter engine provides superior stability at higher speeds. However, it lacks the luggage capacity of competitors such as the Polo Vivo and Honda’s Amaze.
Finally, the 2023 Hyundai Grand i10 emerges as a well-rounded contender in the entry-level car segment, embracing both its heritage and modern enhancements. The Grand i10 maintains its relevance in a changing automotive landscape with a comprehensive offering that includes design updates, engine options, infotainment advancements, and practical features. As Hyundai continues to innovate and adapt, the Grand i10 demonstrates the company’s dedication to both its history and the changing needs of its customers.